1. Kanhaiyalal Azad has filed this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution against the order passed by the City Magistrate, Ajmer, refusing to renew the petitioner's licence for a revolver.
2. The facts relied on by the petitioner are that he was granted the licence in 1950 which was renewed from time to time until December 1953. That an application for further renewal was submitted by him, but on 30-12-1953 he received the District Magistrate's letter dated 23-12-1953 directing the petitioner to deposit the revolver in question. A request for communication of reasons of this order cancelling the licence was rejected by the District Magistrate without assignment of reasons on 27-1-1954. On 8-1-1954, the petitioner preferred an appeal to the Chief Commissioner, but the order of the District Magistrate was upheld on 15-1-1954.
A further representation to the Government of India on 10-2-1954 was turned down, vide District Magistrate's letter dated 29-6-1954. On 6-7-1954, the petitioner was further informed by the District Magistrate that refusal to renew the licence is treated as cancellation of the licence. The petitioner prays for a writ in the nature of a writ of certiorari, mandamus or any other similar direction quashing the orders of the District Magistrate and the Chief Commissioner and ordering restoration of the revolver and the licence'. It is urged that the order is illegal inasmuch as no reasons have been recorded for deeming it necessary for the security of the public peace to cancel or refuse such licence.
3. In the reply, the respondents have urged that the District Magistrate had full discretion to renew the licence and is not by rule 41 of the Indian Arms Act (Rules?) required to give any reasons. That the petitioner is not entitled to any relief as he has not contended that the order passed by the Chief Commissioner Is illegal.
That the Chief Commissioner's order shows that the petitioner's case was considered on merits. That it is not necessary for the District Magistrate to record any reasons for refusing to renew the licence much less to show that renewal was being refused on account of security of public peace. That the order is an executive' order and this Court has no jurisdiction to intervene.
4. In the petition, I have heard the learned Counsel for the applicant and the learned Government pleader.
5. The learned Counsel for the petitioner baa referred me to the provisions of Section 18, Arms Act. Section 18 reads:
Cancelling and | Any licence may be cancelled or Sub-Suspension | Pendedlicence. | (a) by the officer by whom the samewas granted,... when forreasons to be recorded in writing, such officer...deems itnecessary for the security of thepublic peace to cancel or sus-pend such licence ;...
6. The contention of the learned Counsel in that every case of refusal to renew must be considered a case of cancellation and that Section 18(a) requires that the officer must record his reasons in writing and can cancel or suspend a licence only when he deems it necessary for th# security of the public peace to cancel or suspend such licence. The learned Counsel has also referred to - 'Beni Chand v. Dist. Magistrate, Banda' : AIR1953All476 ; - 'Haji Md. v. Commr. of Police' : AIR1954Cal157 and - 'Sudhansu Kanta v. State of Bihar' AIR 1954 Pat 299 (C).
These rulings refer to cases of cancellation and suspension and not to cases of refusal to renew. There can be no doubt that if the word 'cancelled' used in Section 18 is to be taken to cover the case of 'refuse to renew', then these will apply and the requirements of the law not be satisfied till the Magistrate has recorded his reasons in writing and those reasons show that he deems it necessary for the security of the public peace to cancel or suspend such licence.
7. The main question for my consideration however is whether the word 'cancelled' must be deemed to cover the case of 'refusal to renew'. The learned Counsel for the applicant has urged: that there is no provision in the law for refusal to renew. The learned Government Pleader has referred me to the provisions of Section 16 which make possession of arms unlawful by virtue or expiry of a licence therefor. The learned Counsel has also referred me to the District Magistrate's letter dated 6-7-1954 which states that as the licence has not been renewed, it means that the licence has been cancelled. I have also been referred to the appellate judgment of the Chief Commissioner, State of Ajmer, dated 15-1-1954.
There the learned Chief Commissioner held that the orders under Rule 41 were orders of a quasi-judicial nature and that reasons should b& given therein. The words relied upon are 'and would make the licensee, whose licence is cancelled, wise about the reasons which led to the cancellation'. The suggestion of the learned Counsel appears to be that both the District Magistrate and the Chief Commissioner considered 'refusal to renew' as amounting to 'cancellation. On this basis it is argued that the provisions of Section 18(a), of Arms Act, should apply to the case of a refusal to renew. I am unable to agree.
The Indian Arms Act does not deal with the case of grant of a licence. A renewal must or dinarily be deemed to be a fresh grant. It cannot be said that cases of renewal were not within the purview of the legislature as the case of expiry of a licence was specifically mentioned in Section 16. Besides if the case of 'non-renewal' is to be treated as 'cancellation' then every licence for the limited period permitted by rules framed Under Section 17 (a) would, in fact, become a life licence. The mere fact that the District Magistrate or the Chief Commissioner used the words 'cancellation' and 'non-renewal' as almost synonymous is no sufficient justification for my treating them as amounting in law to the same thing.
Cancellation and suspension of licence, as they cut short the period for which the licence was granted, appear to have been specifically provided for in Section 18, Arms Act. There is no reference in that Section to grant of a licence or to renewal of a licence which is in fact a fresh grant made to an old licensee. There Is no justification for my stretching the word 'cancellation' to cover the case of 'non-renewal'. It appears to me that the legislature intended to put the case of 'renewal' on the same level as that of a fresh grant. In the case of refusal to grant a licence, no reasons need be stated. Apparently, it was the intention that even in the case of 'refusal to renew' no reasons need be recorded.
8. In that view, I am of opinion that the District Magistrate was within his rights in refusing to renew the licence and that he need not have recorded any reasons for his refusal to renew. There has been, in my opinion, no breach of any mandatory provisions of any law and no interference by this Court appears to be called for.
9. The result is that this petition fails and Is dismissed. In the particular circumstances of the case, I make no order as to costs.